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Residential Learning Centers: Help for small rural schools

CEAAC successfully advocated for a program to help small rural high schools beginning in 2012. In 2014, our efforts reached fruition, with passage of enabling legislation and funding in the state budget for school districts to carry out our idea. This project is closed for CEAAC, but students all over Alaska are benefiting from the centers that our work allowed to exist.

Students in small rural high schools need extra help. Tiny schools cannot provide the same opportunities as comprehensive high schools, and educational outcomes show the difference. As a result, many families send their students away from home, to statewide boarding schools. The departure of those students from villages makes the job of educating the students who remain even more difficult.

As an element of our three-year plan, CEAAC advocated for Residential Learning Centers that can enhance village high school education, and consequently improve small rural high schools. Based on successful models around the state, the centers house students for periods of a semester or less in regional hubs close to home, where they can access greater educational opportunities. While students remain enrolled in home schools and stay connected to family and community, these temporary periods in a larger school provide wider opportunities.

Our partner in the initiative was Cook Inlet Tribal Council, which for years has helped education Native students in Anchorage. CITC seeks to house at-risk students who would benefit from a stable dorm environment. Lower Kuskokwim School District and Alaska Gateway School District also contributed to the project.

Jerry Covey of JSC Consulting led our initiative. Background on his work at the links below. The RLC project was also a major part of our legislative program.

Links

CEAAC/CITCI Regional Learning Center Update - July 2013

RLC Talking Points

RLC Questions and Answers

Covey report on project progress, December 2012, including proposed legislation

Slides of Jerry Covey's presentation on small rural high schools and the RLC concept (Powerpoint) (pdf)

AFN Resolution supporting RLC project

Article in Alaska Dispatch on our project “Revolution in Rural Education”

 

 

updated 10/08/2014